BOSTON (CBS) – For the first time since game six of the NBA Finals, the Celtics had their starting five back together.
Just not to start the game. Not yet at least.
Kendrick Perkins entered Monday night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers early in the first quarter to a rousing ovation from the TD Garden crowd. Just 224 days removed from an ACL injury that kept him out of game seven of the finals and the first 43 games this season, he made sure everyone knew he was on the court.
“I was trying to get a tech to let everyone know I was back, but it’s cool,” Perkins said. “ It felt good. The first quarter I got a little tired, after that I caught my second wind and I was alright. It felt good to be in the flow of things.”
Perkins returned a week earlier than expected after being cleared to play following Monday’s practice. Although he looked rusty at times, he felt no pain and wanted to stay on the floor despite the Celtics large lead in the fourth quarter. He was not able to ellude Doc Rivers’ request for him to return to the bench.
“I think 6-10, 275 is a little too big to try and hide,” the center joked. “When he came and got me in the fourth, I really wanted to stay in and keep working on my rythmn and get as much game time as I could.”
In 17 minutes, Perkins scored seven points to go along with six rebounds. He also distributed the ball well, dishing out three assists. But his bread-and-butter is on the defensive end. Even though it does not show up in the stat sheet his presence was felt. Or heard in this case.
“I thought defensively he was excellent,” Head Coach Doc Rivers said after the game. “Just the communication, we were loud again defensively which was nice. You could hear him and Kevin (Garnett) barking orders defensivley, and that makes us really good.”
The Celtics React To Kendrick Perkins’ Return
Perkins is not sure when he will be inserted back as a starter, but knows his return is just one more step to the Celtics becoming whole again.
“We’re always talking about it, once we get healthy all the way we’ll be pretty much unstoppable,” Perk said. “Especially our front court. We can throw whatever at you. Shaq, Kevin, Baby (Glen Davis), myself, Semih (Erden). We’ve got all the weapons, we just have to use them.”